NCVO has written to the new minister for civil society urging her to ensure that charities are not overlooked when funding to prepare for a no-deal Brexit is handed out.
In his letter to Baroness Barran, Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, also makes the case for a “resilient communities fund” to particularly support community charities.
Government departments are in the process of submitting bids to the Treasury for additional funding to help with Brexit preparations, and NCVO has urged the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which houses the Office for Civil Society, to ask for funding specifically for charities.
“Charities should not be overlooked as the government prepares its operational and financial plans,” Etherington said.
He added that if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, “it is very likely that many charities will be front and centre not only in providing an immediate response, but also in supporting communities up and down the country in the longer term”.
This means that as the chancellor makes funds available for no-deal planning, he should be “explicitly open” to charities, Etherington told the minister.
‘Resilient communities fund’
Etherington also said that there “was a strong case” to set up a “resilient communities fund” for local charities.
He said that charities are on the “front line” when it comes to supporting people who may be affected by different Brexit scenarios, and often have the expertise to offer the right advice. However, “they will need resources to do so”.
Etherington warned that stepping up to do more would be “difficult for charities that are already operating on low reserves”.
“A funding package should therefore be set up specifically for charities that can help support communities with a range of needs in the event of a no-deal EU exit. This should provide grants that are easily accessible and require minimum administration, in order to ensure a swift distribution that can support the services that they will need to provide,” he said.
NCVO has not suggested how much funding would be needed, with a spokesperson saying: “We hope the government would make available whatever funding was necessary. We think this is the start of a conversation about what will be needed from charities in the event of no deal and how they can help with the consequences.”
NCVO has also been involved in the sector-wide Community Wealth Fund Alliance, which is calling for dormant assets from stocks, shares and pension funds to be used to set up a new endowment to support communities. Today’s letter is a completely separate initiative.
Civil Society News has asked the Office for Civil Society for a response.